Offensive lineman Ryan Bates committed to Penn State early on in James Franklin’s career in Happy Valley, when the ink was barely dry on Penn State’s 2014 recruiting class. He was a very highly touted prospect for the Lions, top five in the Commonwealth that year, and picked his in-state team over the likes of Michigan and Auburn.
In most blue blood programs, a young offensive lineman won’t vy for playing time early on in his career, needing at least a year in the weight room to bulk up to the collegiate level, yet that’s exactly what Bates did. The Lions had notorious offensive struggles in 2015 under then-offensive coordinator John Donovan, and many were calling for Bates to be amongst those youngsters inserted on the field. Franklin held strong, though, and Bates was able to redshirt that season - luckily for fans of the 2019 Penn State squad.
As a redshirt freshman in 2016, Bates helped anchor an explosive offense, starting all fourteen games that conference-winning season. He built on that experience, starting most of the games in 2017 before an injury sidelined him for some.
Bates comes into the 2018 season one of the anchors of an offensive line that finally has decent depth, experience, and talent, and looks to be one of the best units on a PSU squad that will hope to challenge for the division yet again.